Thursday, November 18, 2010

This 'n That

I have been doing some serious hanging out with friends lately.

Two weeks ago I went to see FOR COLORED GIRLS with about 25 women. We were four generations strong! Following the movie that was playing at the Regal on Court Street in Brooklyn, we headed to Night of the Cookers where we ate, talked, sang and shared about being colored girls, colored women, colored elders and colored queens. We made the commitment to stay in touch, go to other events together and create projects together. I got everybody's email address and created a FCG Club list serve. We'll see what we come up with!

Last Friday I went with seven friends to see A FREE MAN OF COLOR produced by Lincoln Center Theater ( It is written by Tony Award winner John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation), is directed by Tony winner George C. Wolfe (Noise/Funk, Angels In America, Topdog/Underdog) and stars Tony winner Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Noise/Funk, Angels in America, Boycott, Ali), Mos (aka Mos Def), Joseph Marcell (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and about 30 other people.

We had an amazing time. The play takes place in New Orleans, Haiti, and France in 1801 before the Louisana Territory was purchased by the United States from France. And people of color -- quadroons, octoroons, mulattos, sambos and other shades of black were not constrained by the social, economic, and political conventions that were governed by race and that peculiar institution like their neighbor to the east. Once Louisana became part of the United States, the sale and stoke of a pen said that your degree of blackness did not matter anymore. You were black. Period. All rights and privileges of being free and of color were revoked. Instantly.

The play was funny. Tragic. Truthful. And produced on the scale of grand opera. Jeffrey Wright has got to be the most underrated and the most brillant actor of his generation.

Following the performance I had dinner with two of the seven folks I started with. We talked, laughed and debated about what we had just experienced. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 a.m.

Go see A FREE MAN OF COLOR. Now! Right now!


Been doing a lot of reading lately. Right now I am reading Terry McMillan's Getting to Happy, Her sequel to Waiting to Exhale. Terry is a master storyteller. I am having a ball reading about Savannah, Robin, Bernadine and Gloria 15 years later. It is wonderful to read about women who are not 25 years old and silly.

Loved reading Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. Dr. Cornel West is an awesome brother. Thank God for him!

Had not read a sweeping saga in a long while until I was given a copy of Some Sing Some Cry, A novel by Ntozake Shange and her sister Ifa Bayeza. Seven generations of African American women, their love of life, of music, and what it means to be family. Wow. I was swept away.


I love to dance and recently found myself in a West African dance class taught by one of the featured dancers in the Broadway musical FELA! Hadn't been in a class in years, but I was moved to go after I danced with Temples of Praise (the dance ministry) and Prime Time (the ministry for people who are "nicely seasoned") at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn. Oh I had danced during Prime Time emphasis weekend before. But never had my soul said "You've have got to dance!" So, I am dancing. And loving it.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I had the privilege of attending a private screening of FOR COLORED GIRLS last Friday night. As a colored girl whose life was changed by reading, seeing, performing in and teaching the text to undergrads while I was in graduate school, I was ready not to like the Tyler Perry film. Could the creator of Medea really pull off translating this beloved classic from theater to cinema?

Well. The film is not perfect (What film is?) The performances are solid. My favorite moments are by all the theater divas -- Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, and Loretta Divine. Wait until you see an intense scene shared by Ms. Rashad and Thandie Newton. You will shout "WORK!" just like we did during the screening.

The film works best when it stays true to Ntozake Shange's language and its original intent. Things go a bit awry when the poetry going into and coming out of the narrative feels forced, contrived. BUT. It is truly a joy to see black women, in all our various shades of black, on screen in living color.

When you see FOR COLORED GIRLS (and you must experience the film), see it with several generations of women, if possible. Go to a restaurant, diner, or cafe afterwards and break bread. Talk. Connect. Be blessed by the experience. And look for the Broadway revival of the play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf in 2011.

Theater with Friends

About two weeks ago, I went to see a preview performance of The Scottsboro Boys, the new Kander and Ebb musical, with about 8 serious theater-going friends. The Scottsboro Boys re-tells the story of the infamous 1931 case about nine young African American males falsely accused of raping two white women as a minstrel show.

Now. Without giving details about our post-performance discussion at a mid-town diner, I will tell you that our discourse was spirited and fun. Theater is a communal experience. The next time you go to a live performance, a lecture, a film, a book signing -- share it with a friend or friends. That will make all the difference.